The question of what to do with the struggling Hamilton Farmers’ Market remains unanswered, as the latest consultant’s report lists issues that need solving, without providing firm solutions.
The hiring of the consultant prompted the Market Board’s long-time citizen members to resign in protest of continuous spending on consultants.
The 77-page report, released Tuesday morning, recommends one immediate action – spending $200,000 to hire a consultant to produce a market design and layout study.
The design and layout study will then recommend renovations or moving the Market.
City Hall should fund the renovations or move of the Market, write the consultants.
A renovation option could include converting the upper level to a food court.
The remainder of the recommendations are high-level, obvious, and without implementation plans.
– “more local farmers, local producers, and pop-up vendors”;
– “regular seasonal street closures”;
– “stronger connections” to Jackson Square, York Blvd, the Library, and surrounding buildings;
– “after hours and expanded culinary offerings”;
– allowing liquor licenses for food-serving establishments;
– “increase management capacity and funding sources”; and
– “expand hours (for at least parts of the Market)”; and
– maintain and ensure the availability of parking.
The report does not provide actionable recommendations on key issues, including governance, rental rates, amount of city operating funding, and hours of operation.
On the contentious issue of Market hours, the consultants state is disagreement among vendors regarding enforcing present hours of operations.
Meanwhile, the report states customers “strongly desire” “expanded operational days/hours.”
On programming and pop-up vendors, the report notes that “not all vendors want” short-term and daily vendors.
The Market needs 1,322 parking spaces per day, the consultants write.
The City “transacted” its parking properties surrounding the Market to a private consortium, Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG). The City no longer holds ownership control of any lands near the Market.
The role of the City in governing the Market remains a point of contention. The report notes a history of distrust between some vendors and the City.
During the past decade, the Market Board was plagued by internal dysfunction and conflict of interest problems.
The third consultants’ report, released in September 2020, called for disbanding the Market Board due to the “deliberate obfuscation” by vendor representatives.
The third report called for enforcing Market vendor contracts – including requirements to be open during business hours.
In the following months, Hamilton City Council voted to be the only municipality not to flow through federal COVID rent relief funds to market vendors.
The City of Hamilton pocketed the funds and demanded full rent from vendors with threats of eviction.
$100,000 was budgeted for this, the fourth consultant report.
Council will consider the report during a special meeting on Monday, May 8. The meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. People can register to delegate up until noon on Friday, May 5.
(Scroll down the page to find the online registration form. Enter the committee as “OTHER ADVISORY/SUB-COMMITTEE” with the name “Sole Voting Member of the Hamilton Farmers’ Market”)
Production Details v. 1.0.0 Published: May 3, 2023 Last edited: May 3, 2023 Author: Joey Coleman Edit Record v. 1.0.0 original version
Have all city cuncelers visited the market now and during COVD?
Things will get better when construction settles nextdoor. More walk-ins.
Hopefully homeless people will be housed soon and not scare others away.
Also, there is room in hallway outside washrooms for small food places to eat. Leave room for market shops.
Why not change the Farmers Market space from food retail, too affordable housing. Renovate the space into one and two bedroom apartments. Instead of market rent, make the rent 30% of the tenants income a month. Whether that is Ontario Works, ODSP or part&full time work. Hamiltion has a severe crisis with homeless population. Market rent for people on ODSP is impossible too afford. A one bedroom apartment in Hamilton is $1300-$1800 a month. ODSP allowance for rent is $498. A person cannot rent a room a month for $498. City council and the Mayor need too act now. Stop spending $200 000 on consultant for farmers market. Take the money and start drawing up plans too change the Farmers Market into a affordable housing market. Lord knows its desperately needed in Hamilton.